Kudos to Secretary Vilsack and USDA for basing their regulatory decisions on sound science. Another recent example is the Proposed Rule published on May 3rd that would re-list carrageenan as appropriate for use in organic food products. The USDA decision is consistent with a recent decision by FDA affirming the safety of carrageenan for all food products. Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) and many other regulatory authorities around the world have approved carrageenan for use as a food ingredient.
Carrageenan is a natural fiber isolated from red seaweed that has been used in cooking for hundreds of years, and, today, is safely consumed on a daily basis by many millions of people worldwide. That includes infants growing up on formula products, both organic and conventional, containing the ingredient. Thousands of processed dairy, meat, and other food products in markets around the world have better texture and are more nutritious thanks to carrageenan. Furthermore, carrageenan provides vegetarians and vegans alternatives to gelatin.
Regulatory and policy decisions must follow science if we are going to feed a hungry planet. While the carrageenan decision might be viewed by some as a minor regulatory decision, it reinforces an important principle: Sound science must trump personal philosophy. USDA is right, and should finalize the rule as proposed.
For those interested in commenting, here is a link to the proposed rule docket. Public submissions are due by June 3.